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manattManatt’s helps IowaDOT pave the way for rapid reopening of flood-ravaged interstate

A major player in Iowa ready mixed production and concrete paving, Manatt’s Inc., was part of a team whose spontaneous mobilization saw the state reopen a portion of Interstate 680 devastated by late-spring, Missouri River flooding.

When the swollen river finally receded after Labor Day, a 3.1-mile, four-lane stretch of I-680 between the Missouri River and I-29 was revealed as buckled, crumbled concrete slabs. The road had been closed since June, and with fall fast approaching, Iowa Department of Transportation officials did not waste any time in putting the project out to bid. The agency offered contractors a “limited design,” with only key guidelines necessary for construction to begin.

Peterson Contractors Inc. of Reinbeck, Iowa, and Reilly Construction Company Inc. of Ossian, Iowa, prevailed in a joint venture with a $19.239 million bid. Along with Manatt’s, based in Ankeny, Iowa, five other subcontractors worked on the project at one point or another, and a dozen more companies provided supplies. Construction began in late September and continued almost nonstop for four weeks. At the beginning, crews worked 24 hours a day to clear out an estimated 18,000 tons of broken highway slabs. The pace then fell back between 12- to 14-hour days for paving operations.

Throughout the construction process, managers and executives of the three main contractors (Peterson Contractors, Reilly Construction and Manatt’s) and IowaDOT officials met each Monday to discuss project progress. Mark Bare, project coordinator with Peterson Contractors and project manager of the I-680 job, noted the “united front” among the IowaDOT and contractors was “a testament to what can be done if you work together.” Due to such coordination, there was an accelerated pace of construction with around 300 workers who logged over 60,000 man hours, resulting in I-680 being reopened in early November.

By opening I-680 to four-lane traffic early—surpassing the requirement of having two-lane, two-way traffic on either side of the roadway by December 23—Peterson Contractors, Reilly Construction and Manatt’s earned around $6 million in incentive bonuses offered by the IowaDOT. All but $2 million of the incentive bonuses will be reimbursed by federal highway disaster funds. — Prepared by Josephine Smith from Omaha World-Herald and Iowa Department of Transportation reports